WASHINGTON - Tank spills will take a back burner to road upkeep if Congress reallocates the Environmental Protection Agency€™s (EPA) Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUST) Trust Fund to pay for transportation projects, Inside EPA reports. This comes amid concern that higher grade ethanol might trigger more tank spills. Currently, a projected 88,000 sites await cleanup.
Critics of the move think there is little they can do to stop a House-Senate conference committee working on merging the two highway bills from incorporating language that raids $3 billion from the LUST Trust Fund and diverts future revenues collected for that program to offset the Highway Trust Fund.
The provision has generated strong disagreement from state waste officials and fuel retailers, including NACS, who point out it will take money from the LUST fund€™s intended purpose of cleanup: "Simply because you have continually failed to adequately fund a program you designated to prevent releases and to clean up vital land and water sites within your communities, is not reason enough to divert these monies to highway construction projects unrelated to environmental protection," wrote NACS, SIGMA and PMAA in a letter sent last month to Congress.
NACS also responded to final language included in the U.S. House of Representatives€™ version of highway reauthorization legislation that mirrors the Senate version, noting that Congress has repeatedly failed to appropriate sufficient funds to the program. Since 1986, the LUST Trust Fund has accumulated roughly $3.2 billion, collects approximately $194 million in fees and earns $127 million in interest. However, Congress only appropriates around $112 million per year.